Mantra, 12 Definition(s)
A mantra – a specific structure of sound patterns coded in syllables and vowels – may be articulate or inarticulate; it may or may not convey a meaning. But, its relevance is in its inherent shakthi. Its subtle sounds or the abstract language attempts to visualize the un-differentiated divine principle. The accent, intonation and articulation too play a role in the efficacy of a mantra. A prayer, prarthana, is a submission; and it has a meaning and a philosophical significance. Prarthana has an intellectual appeal. Mantra is beyond intellect.
Mantra (मन्त्र) is a Sanskrit technical term referring to a “mystical formula” regarding some deity. It is used throughout vedic and purāṇic literature.
The sonic form of a deity is a mantra. Empirically, a mantra is a formulaic utterance. It is the sonic form of the god which is primary, since the designating epistemologically and ontically precedes the designated. The power (bala) of the deity inheres in the first instance in the mantra form and attaches itself to the other two forms (devatā and yantra) by derivation
The Mantra is the root concept of both Hindu and Buddhist Tantra. It is the life force of tantra Sādhanā. Mantra is an esoteric formula that is to be practiced according to a stricht Tāntric discipline. Each and every letter from ‘अ’ (a) to ‘क्ष’ (kṣa) of Mātṛkā Varṇa is living energy. They are acoustic roots of the different waves and the vibrations of the cosmos. These letters are the representative sonoric manifestation of the universe. According to Tantra Śabda is an expression of vibrational creative energy. When these letters are arranged after the Tāntric precepts a creative energy is generated which creates para-psychological wonders.
The Sanskrit alphabets are of Tāntric origin. They represent the different acoustic vibrations of the cosmos. The fifty letters are the fifty basic vibrations, which consitute the entire universe. They are the Bījākṣara of Tāntric esotericism. The word ‘Mantra’ has been made from man + trai (dhātu) + i (suffix) = mantra, and means the incantation of which brings liberation from the trifarious bondage—physical, mental and spritual. It creates an acoustic virbration in the psychic body of the Sādhaka, which awakens the Kuṇḍalinī Śakti. All mantra are words, but all words are not mantras. All words habe originated from Parā, but only few words which have been originated from Parā are mantras.
Mantra is most potent weapon to cut asunder te trammels of nescience. The incantation of mantra is called Praṇidhāna. The incantation of the Mantra creates an acoustic vibration which awakens the dormant divinity (Kuṇḍalinī or Herukā). According to Tantra, Mantra are endowed with great mystic power. Sādhanamālā says if the mantras are incanted according to strict esoteric technique it could perform wonders and impossible tasks. Sādhanamālā further says that through constant incantation of Mantra could generate so much power that the whole world could remain wonder struck. Mantras are powerful when they are applied strictly according to esoteric rules and formulations. The consciousness is the sole repository of the Mantra. Without the force of consciousness mantra is dead and useless.
Mantra is said to be the sound-form of Devata (god-form). One realizes Devata through the chanting of mantra in mantra yoga. Mantra yoga concentrates on nada (sound) to strike rhythm between individual and cosmic vibration, to activate the right nādis, to expose one into the cidākāsa or daharākāsa (causal space).
The Vedas mention three types of mantras: vedic, tantric, puranic. Each of these can be further divided into sattvic, rajasic, and tamasic mantras.
1) Sattvic (mode of goodness) mantras are chanted for light, wisdom, divine love, compassion, and God realization. They destroy all karma, bring peace, and lead to perfection after death.
2) Rajasic (mode of passion) mantras are chanted for progeny and material prosperity. Unlike sattvic mantras, which remove karma, rajasic mantras force men to takd rebirth to reap the fruits of their karma.
3) Tamasic mantras (mode of ignorance), popularly called "black magic," are sinful. They are generally used to propitiate spirits, harm others, and perform vicious deeds.
The original spiritual letters are endowed with specific powers, and in particular combinations they assume more power in relation to certain Deities. These combinations of letters are called bijas or seeds, and they combine to form words. When these words are connected in a particular order, they have special powers to represent a Deity in full. These combinations are called mantras. The power then manifested in the whole mantra is greater than that of any of its constituent sounds. The mantras, which are non-different from the Deity, are an eternal manifestation of the Deity and are spiritual by nature. By repetition of the mantra, the worshiper invokes the mercy of the Deity whose mantra he repeats.
There are six basic types of mantras used in Deity worship: i
- Dhyana Mantras—meditation mantras used to mentally invoke the Lord's transcendental form, abode, and pastimes.
- Bija Mantras—seed mantras for meditation and purification of articles used inpuja.
- Mula Mantras—root mantras, being the essence of the Deity, are recited along with each article of worship as a means of addressing the Lord.
- Stutis & Stotras—prayers chanted before, during, or after worship to glorify the name, form, qualities, and pastimes of the Lord.
- Pranama Mantas—prayers for offering obeisances to the Lord at the end of worship.
- Gayatri Mantras—Vedic or Pancaratrika mantras used to worship the Lord, invoking the three principles of sambandha, abhidheya, prayojana.
manta : (nt.) a charm; spell; incantation.
Mantra (मंत्र): An incantation with words of power. A religious syllable or poem, typically from the Sanskrit language. They are primarily used as spiritual conduits, words and vibrations that instill one-pointed concentration in the devotee. Other purposes have included religious ceremonies to accumulate wealth, avoid danger, or eliminate enemies. Mantras are performed through chanting.
Mantra also mantram, Skt.; a power-laden syllable or series of syllables that manifests certain cosmic forces and aspects of the buddhas, sometimes also the name of a buddha. Continuous repetition of mantras is practiced as a form of meditation in many Buddhist schools; it also plays a considerable role in the Vajrayāna. Here mantra is defined as a means of protecting the mind. In the transformation of “body, speech, and mind” that is brought about by spiritual practice, mantra is associated with speech, and its task is the sublimation of the vibrations developed in the act of speaking. Recitation of mantras is always done in connection with detailed visualizations and certain bodily postures (mudrā) .
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